ON THEIR new "Mule," the members of Alice Donut, a New York post-hardcore quintet, are every bit the wise guys they've always been: The album's opening song, "Mother of Christ," declares that "I want to lactate sin-free!"

Yet the Donuts don't sound quite so shrill this time around, and that's a blessing. A protege of ex-Dead Kennedy vocalist Jello Biafra, lead singer Tomas Antona has tended to emulate the San Francisco punker's arch, pseudo-operatic warble, but here he's become almost listenable, and the band supports his decision with its most melodic material. Though that's surely not what was intended, "Mule" almost makes the case for musical maturity.

False Face Society recalls an earlier era in San Francisco rock: the proto-worldbeat period of Santana, Joy of Cooking and others. This Baltwash band (members live in both cities) writes sincere, if vague, protest lyrics about body bags and Supreme Court conservatism, but the strength of its eponymous six-song EP is polyrhythmic. With five of the six members credited with some sort of percussion, the Society's Afro-Caribbean beats keep things percolating even when the sentiments -- or the heavy metal guitar solos -- are predictable.

ALICE DONUT -- "Mule" (Alternative Tentacles).

FALSE FACE SOCIETY -- "False Face Society" (FFS). Appearing together Saturday at d.c. space.